From the age of seven, Raffaele Ruggeri spent Sundays with his father and grandmother in their restaurant in Milan. Says the Italian restaurateur, “With my grandmother’s supervision, I often assisted in the care of the ‘high profile’ table, situated right beside the kitchen where the celebrity and VIP guests would dine, so from a very early age I was taught the fine art of hospitality.” Both his father and his grandmother, for whom the family’s BICE Ristorante is named, recognized early on the genuine passion that the young Raffaele had for the business and foresaw his potential.
Mr. Ruggeri was born in Tuscany, Italy in 1972, and raised in Milan, where he attended elementary school, followed by ‘College Du Leman’ a private English speaking high school in Geneva, Switzerland. During this time, he says, “I had the privilege to associate with a diverse range of people of many cultures and backgrounds. These interactions enabled me to easily adapt to any situation, a skill that has been extremely useful in my travels as a representative for our company.”
At the age of 15, the family moved to Los Angeles, and he very quickly decided that he wanted to learn every aspect of the restaurant. This resulted in a several-year process of discovering how everything works – from serving as a busboy, cook, assistant chef, waiter, manager, maitre‘d, and purchasing agent, to running the daily sales operation of a restaurant – until he began to participate in all the openings of new restaurants worldwide.
Beginning to recognize his own strengths, Mr. Ruggeri found that he had a natural skill for organization and leadership as well as a contagious passion for the business which, he realized, was inspiring to the employees. These strengths, combined with his innate creativity and design sense, enabled him to begin to oversee conceptualization of new restaurants, including the entire process of sourcing locations, design, layout, and creation of the management team and restaurant staff.
“My willingness to stay focused in the present moment allows me to remain receptive to new ideas and sensitive to the interests and concerns of my customers,” Mr. Ruggeri, explains. “Positive focus, receptivity to the inspiration of new ideas, and my continued efforts to expand and deepen the relationships in my life through honest communication and hard work, are very powerful ways I have found to bring out the best in each situation that I am blessed to experience. I feel grateful for the opportunities that continue to be available in my life.”
Which brings Mr. Ruggeri’s story back full circle to the time in his grandmother’s restaurant in Milan and the invaluable skills that he respectfully says he inherited from her. Combined they create what he describes as, “the art of hospitality, of making people feel comfortable in my presence, which is truly the essence of my being and what I recognize as my strongest quality.”Raffaele Ruggeri